Mentorship, knowledge transmission and female professionals in Canadian water research and policy

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

We face multiple water challenges: droughts, floods, crumbling infrastructure and disappearing natural hydrosystems. Technological interventions will help but these challenges also require social solutions and good governance. Identifying and implementing both technical and social solutions demands a resilient water research and policy community (WRPC). The WRPC must include diverse perspectives as the challenges increase in intensity, frequency and scope and as decision processes accelerate. Will the WRPC be able to effectively address this evolving water context? Possibly, but we argue that the WRPC's effectiveness will be partially determined by its ability to respond to impending demographic changes and the erosion of valuable knowledge resources. Generating stronger social ties between water professionals from different generations is critical to transfer these knowledge resources. Mentorship has been recognized for both its individual benefits and its organizational benefits, yet it has been under-explored within the WRPC. Using a qualitative analysis of a Canadian case and focusing on a female professional sub-population, we argue that mentorship has significant potential to develop and sustain intergenerational ties and knowledge resource transmission within a WRPC. Our findings suggest that long-term mentorship investments will directly contribute to the WRPC's resilience and its ability to effectively address water challenges.

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